The Best Commercial Truck Insurance Companies of 2022

1/14/2022

The trucking industry plays a fundamental role in our economy, from the 18 wheelers that criss-cross the country to the delivery vans, cement mixers, and pickup trucks that local businesses depend on every day.

Long-haul trucking, which employs millions of people and generates hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue each year, is what most people imagine when they think about the trucking industry. But it is a wide variety of commercial vehicles that move as much as 70 percent of all goods used in the U.S., and ensure that food, medicine, supplies and other necessities reach the people who need them.

Some types of trucking combine remote work with the chance to see the country. It’s not a career for the faint of heart or those who prefer to be desk-bound. Trucking is for people who welcome adventure.

But with adventure comes risk, and that’s why truckers take important steps to protect themselves and their businesses. Trucking can be dangerous, and even on a good day it can be unpredictable. That’s why trucking businesses don’t just insure against traffic accidents, but a range of other unexpected situations that can arise on the road. And it’s not limited to long-haul truckers driving big-rigs; Any business that relies on commercial vehicles–whether to deliver flowers, move construction supplies to a job site or tow other cars–needs coverage in case of unforeseen events.

Commercial truck insurance is as fundamental to the industry as gasoline. Without it, the work cannot be done.

Learning about commercial truck insurance is the first step to getting a policy that is specific to the needs of any business, and which will protect against a range of unanticipated events.

For buyers that just need a quick recommendation, here are our top choices.

Progressive
View Quote
Best overall, recommended for private carriers
Reputation
Excellent
Coverage
All 50 states, wide range of vehicles
Financial Strength
Excellent
Northland Insurance
View Quote
Recommended for owner operators and fleet insurance
Reputation
Excellent
Coverage
All 50 states, specializes in trucking
Financial Strength
Excellent
National Interstate
View Quote
Recommended for large motor carriers and specialty trucking
Reputation
Excellent
Coverage
All 50 states, specializes in trucking
Financial Strength
Excellent
About the author
Scott Elgin has been in the trucking business since 1982, acting as both a motor carrier and a freight agent. During this time, he has overseen thousands of units servicing the entire continental United States.

What is commercial truck insurance?

Commercial truck insurance is a subset of auto insurance policies specifically tailored to trucks, which often need unique insurance coverage compared to traditional vehicles. Businesses that need commercial truck insurance include:

  1. Trucking companies
  2. Independent truck drivers
  3. Companies in other industries that use trucks to move cargo or materials, such as construction companies or retailers like Walmart


The factors that determine what kind of commercial truck insurance a company will need–and how much it will cost–include the size and type of vehicle, the type of goods being transported, and whether the company is transporting their own goods, acting as a for-hire carrier, or working as an independent contractor under a for-hire carrier.

Primary liability insurance is required to get any commercial truck on the road but for the majority of businesses, primary liability is just the beginning. Most will want to secure additional coverage, such as physical damage, to make sure they are protected from unfortunate incidents. 

Federal and local laws, vehicle type, routes, and type of cargo are among the other factors that guide specific policy decisions for all businesses that use trucks.


Commercial Auto Insurance vs. Commercial Truck Insurance

If a vehicle is used in the operations of a business, it is likely to require coverage by a commercial auto insurance policy. Commercial auto insurance will be necessary if a business:

  • Transports goods or people for a fee 
  • Conducts a service with a vehicle
  • Needs higher liability limits because of the nature of the work
  • Hauls tools or equipment or tows a trailer used to conduct business

But many businesses, especially those seeking higher liability limits or other coverage features, will require commercial auto insurance policies commonly referred to as commercial truck insurance. These policies often cover larger vehicles like trucks used in construction, long-distance transport, or agriculture. Commercial truck insurance makes distinctions between the types of cargo or materials being transported, as well as the size and type of vehicle. 


A variety of commercial vehicles are commonly covered by commercial truck insurance policies, and each has its own insurance requirements. These include:


  • Tractor trailers (aka semi trucks)
  • Box trucks
  • Pickup trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Cement mixers
  • Dump trucks


Do pickup trucks need commercial insurance?

Businesses that own and operate pickup trucks will require a commercial insurance policy. However, most pickup trucks do not require a commercial policy if they are owned and operated by individuals for personal reasons.

 

While these distinctions are often clear-cut, gray areas do arise when pickups are owned by individuals and sole proprietors that occasionally use their truck for business, such as plumbers, roofers, electricians, and other tradespeople. Individuals operating in this gray area should consult with potential insurance providers to make sure they have the appropriate insurance coverage as it often comes down to not just the type of vehicle, but how it is being used.

 

Some insurance providers will offer commercial auto policies to cover pickup trucks used for business, and others will refer to this coverage as commercial truck insurance. Since the policy will be designed specifically for the weight of the vehicle, its cargo, and its business use, whether the insurance provider refers to their coverage as commercial auto or commercial truck insurance does not matter.



Fleet Insurance vs. Individual Vehicle

While some independent drivers and owner operators need only worry about insuring a single vehicle, larger operators–including motor carriers and owner operators with vehicle fleets–are in the position of insuring multiple commercial vehicles.

 

Many in this position opt for fleet insurance, which lets a business insure all vehicles under a single policy. Fleet insurance usually offers the option to insure all drivers to all vehicles in the fleet, or assign named drivers to certain vehicles.

 

Fleet insurance, which can be customized to businesses and to the work at hand, is available to any business that leases or owns at least two vehicles. While the needs of every company vary, many with fleets find fleet insurance more efficient and cost-effective than insuring the individual vehicles in a fleet.

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(855) 852-8232
Receive a free custom quote for your business.

Who needs commercial truck insurance?

Any business using trucks for business purposes will require commercial truck insurance. Global enterprises, medium-sized companies, and independent contractors all need insurance when their operations depend upon trucks, whether it’s a single vehicle or an entire fleet.


While every business using vehicles commercially needs special insurance, the specifics of coverage vary widely depending on the business insuring the vehicle. Motor carriers, owner operators, and businesses in various industries such as construction and retail will all have different insurance needs, though overlap between these categories is common.



Business Classifications

In broad terms, companies needing commercial truck insurance will fall into two categories: private carriers and for-hire carriers.


  • A private carrier is any business that transports its own goods, as opposed to outsourcing the driving to another company or independent contractor. Many construction and landscaping companies are private carriers, as are retail giants like Amazon and Walmart when they use their own drivers and trucks to transport goods.
  • A for-hire carrier provides trucking transportation for other parties. This category includes common carriers, who provide trucking services to the general public, and contract carriers, who do the same for specific shippers based on contracts. Hot shot trucking–or transporting smaller, more time-sensitive cargo on deadline–is an example of a for-hire carrier at work.


Federal Licensing & Regulations

The federal government regulates commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and travel interstate, requiring them to obtain a federal Department of Transportation (DOT) number, which shows registration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A CMV is defined under Title 49 of the U.S. Code as a self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property, if the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds (whichever is greater), transports a certain number of passengers, or transports hazardous materials.


For vehicles over 26,000 pounds driven in the course of business (or those transporting 16 or more passengers, or hazardous materials), a CDL special license is required. These vehicles require more knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities to drive than what is required to drive a non-commercial vehicle, and CDL holders are held to a higher standard than other license holders when operating any type of motor vehicle on public roads. Traffic violations committed by a CDL holder can threaten their CDL certification.


Licensure is obtained through a driver’s home state, and a driver needs just one CDL. Special requirements can come into play if an independent driver or company drivers will be driving:

 

  • a truck with double or triple trailers
  • a truck with a tank
  • a truck carrying hazardous materials
  • a passenger vehicle


While for-hire carriers with a Motor Carrier (MC) number–a unique identifier proving interstate operating authority–will require commercial truck insurance, there are many businesses that have neither a federal DOT number or an MC number that are still required to carry commercial truck insurance. Most of these companies only transport smaller loads, and operate only within state lines. While some of these intrastate operators don’t need a federal DOT number, this is something that varies state by state depending on state regulations. Regardless, these businesses will still need commercial insurance coverage for their vehicles.


Drivers

Truck drivers can work for private carriers, motor carriers, owner operators or independently, as owner operators themselves. In each case, their coverage needs–and responsibility for meeting those needs–varies significantly.


By definition, a driver working for a private carrier–a company that transports its own cargo–will mean the driver is classified as a W2 employee. In this case, the truck insurance will be handled by the company, not the driver. However, if the driver of the truck also owns the company, he or she will be responsible for the insurance.


Driving for a for-hire carrier, on the other hand, can mean the responsibility for insurance shifts from the carrier to the driver, as long as the driver is classified as an independent contractor and not a W2 employee. If the driver is classified as an independent contractor, the driver may be responsible for a portion, if not all of their insurance.


Owner operators who conduct business under their own authority–in effect operating as motor carriers–are responsible for getting their own commercial truck insurance. 


Owner operators driving under another entity’s authority, as well as lease operators, generally have primary liability and cargo insurance covered through the company they are working under. But when it comes to physical damage, non-trucking liability, bobtail insurance and other coverage, these truckers may be responsible for obtaining their own policies.



Trucks

With the roads populated by semi trucks, delivery vans, bucket lifts, tankers, and other commercial vehicles, it’s hard to settle on a single, easy definition for the word truck. The FMCSA has broken out commercial vehicles into their own categories but below is a list of common vehicles that will require commercial truck insurance:


Semi trucks (also known as semis, tractor trailers, 18 wheelers, or big rigs)

Used by both private carriers and for-hire carriers, the “semi” is what comes to mind when most people think of the trucking industry. These trucks are also known as tractor trailers because they combine a powerful engine (the tractor) with a trailer for cargo. Motor carriers often cover primary liability and cargo insurance, but owner operators who work for them–or on lease-to-purchase agreements–often add their own physical damage, bobtail, deadhead and/or non-trucking liability coverage when driving semis.


Box trucks (also known as straight trucks)

Often used by moving companies, delivery drivers, caterers and event planners, box trucks are a common sight in cities and towns around the world. Driving a box truck does not always require a commercial driver’s license, as many are built to carry a maximum load (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating/GVWR) of less than 26,000 lbs. However, box trucks built to carry a heavier load do require a commercial license to drive.


Pickup trucks

Used by a wide range of businesses including construction, agriculture, and hot shot trucking, drivers are not typically required to have a commercial driver’s license unless towing a trailer that weighs more than 10,000 pounds on its own. What may come as a surprise to many, commercial insurance can be needed even when pickups are used for personal reasons when towing a trailer and the combined weight of the truck and trailer is over 10,000 pounds. Requirements for pickup insurance, especially hot shot insurance, is best handled by speaking with an insurance professional.


Tow trucks

Tow truck insurance covers a range of vehicles that tow or transport cars, including single-car tow trucks, multi-car trucks, car carriers, rollbacks, flatbeds, hook-and-chain trucks and wheel-lift trucks. In addition to the standard truck insurance coverage, tow companies will want to look into on-hook towing insurance, which covers vehicles being towed, and garagekeepers liability, which covers vehicles when they are parked or being stored.


Refrigerated trucks

Refrigerated trucks, known to truckers as reefers, are an important part of the trucking industry. They are designed to keep a controlled temperature for perishable goods, and often carry produce, meat or medical cargo. Reefers come in all sizes, but they all have one thing in common: They require specialized commercial truck insurance.


Flatbed trucks

Flatbed trailers are for cargo that needs special transportation, for example heavyweight cargo like oilfield machinery, containers, large crates or lumber. 


Other vehicles that commonly need commercial insurance include:


  • Cargo Vans
  • Cherry Pickers aka Bucket Trucks
  • Tankers (such as fuel tankers)
  • Dump Trucks
  • Pump Trucks
  • Front Loaders
  • Street Sweepers
  • Garbage Trucks
  • Cement Mixers 
  • Food Trucks
  • Ice Cream Trucks
  • Catering Trucks


Insurance Considerations

The business that is insuring trucks, the truck type, and the cargo type – all of these factors will influence what types of commercial truck insurance are required, and how much policies will cost. But there is another important part of the equation: the driving record of the individual operating the vehicle.


Higher risk drivers can mean higher premiums. There are a number of reasons why an insurer might deem a driver risky, including:


Limited experience 

Drivers under the age of 25, or with less than two years’ worth of holding a commercial driver’s license, are considered new drivers and are comparatively risky. It can be challenging for first-time truck insurance buyers to get a good rate because insurers have no track record of safe driving to reference. New businesses may face the same challenges finding affordable truck insurance that new drivers do.


Checkered driving record

Drivers with accidents or moving violations on their record may be deemed high-risk by insurance companies. For these drivers, finding a fair, affordable rate for commercial truck insurance can be a challenge. This challenge would be compounded by an arrest for DUI, or a serious moving violation, for example reckless driving. However, some insurers work with high-risk drivers to come up with coverage that won’t break the bank. High-risk drivers might just have to shop around.

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How does commercial truck insurance work?

Commercial truck insurance is more complicated than personal auto insurance, but there are some notable similarities. These include the four broad categories that must be carefully considered before obtaining a policy. These are:

  • Coverage. This defines what types of damage, which incidents, and what expenses will be covered under a policy. For example, primary liability coverage will be required to get any commercial truck on the road. 
  • Premiums. This represents the cost to the policyholder for insurance coverage. Premiums can typically be paid annually or monthly, depending on the policy.
  • Deductibles. Policyholders are generally responsible for paying out-of-pocket for damages or other expenses up to a certain amount before insurance coverage kicks in to cover additional expenses.
  • Policy Limits. This refers to the predetermined maximum that the insurer is required to pay toward claims filed on the policy. Policyholders can increase the limits of their coverage by purchasing additional umbrella insurance, which steps in when the primary insurance policy limit is reached.

Unlike personal auto insurance, commercial truck insurance will not cover friends or family members of the driver in the case of an incident. Most insurers limit the scope of coverage to the actual driver, and the driver must be either an employee or owner of the business. If a friend or family member takes the wheel, the vehicle is no longer covered by commercial truck insurance. However, commercial truck insurance does extend to passengers of the truck and other individuals who may be involved in an incident.

Federal Insurance Requirements

For businesses operating across state lines or transporting specific types of freight, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires a minimum level of liability insurance as defined under Title 49, Section 387 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations.


The minimum level of liability insurance required for private and for-hire carriers can vary based on the vehicle size, radius of operation and the freight being transported. Federal regulations are extremely detailed and carriers should talk to their insurance provider about their specific situation but in general, the federal insurance minimum requirements for interstate motor carriers are as follows:


FMCSA Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements 

Carrier
For-Hire Carrier Under 10,001 lbs
For-Hire Carrier Over 10,001 lbs
For-Hire or Private Carrier Over 10,001 lbs
For-Hire or Private Carrier
Freight
Non-hazardous Freight
Non-hazardous Freight
Oil (and some
select hazardous waste)
Hazardous Substances, Including Radioactive Materials
Minimum Liability
$300,000
$750,000
$1,000,000
$5,000,000
Table Note: The FMCSA also regulates some intrastate commerce for vehicles over 10,001 pounds if they transport hazardous substances.

In addition to liability insurance, the FMCSA also requires for-hire motor carriers transporting household goods to carry cargo insurance to compensate shippers for any lost or stolen property in connection with their transportation services. These motor carriers are required to carry cargo insurance of $5,000 for the loss or damage of household goods carried on a single vehicle and $10,000 for the loss or damage of household goods occurring at any one time and place.


It’s important to note that most for-hire carriers will be required by shippers or brokers to have insurance above and beyond the federal requirements.


For motor carriers requiring an MC number, they will be required to file proof of their insurance with the FMCSA before they are granted their authority to transport goods

State Insurance Requirements

While the FMCSA mostly regulates interstate motor carriers, intrastate carriers will still need to adhere to their state’s insurance requirements. Depending on the state and insurance type, coverage may require higher or lower policy limits.


In the Event of an Accident

Accidents occur, and when they do, policyholders must file a claim with their insurance provider.


If the accident or incident is covered under an insurance policy, the policyholder is responsible for covering all expenses up to their deductible, at which point the insurance company will cover any additional costs up to the policy limit. 


While this may seem straightforward, insurance companies have differing approaches when it comes to handling expenses after an accident. 


Many insurers maintain a network of pre-approved repair shops that policyholders must use to assess damages and repair vehicles while other insurers might send their own representative to estimate the cost of repair, or ask the policyholder to shop around for price estimates from different auto repair shops. 


Regarding payment, some insurance companies will pay the repair shop in full, and later bill the policyholder for a portion which is based on the deductible. In other cases, the policyholder will need to pay all repair expenses up front and is then reimbursed by the insurance company for costs that exceed the deductible.

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(855) 852-8232
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What does commercial truck insurance cover?

Commercial truck insurance covers drivers, their passengers, and other individuals or vehicles involved in an accident. Most policies also cover the insurance holder’s vehicle. While coverage needs always vary depending on vehicle, route and other determinants, there are standard components of insurance coverage that are nearly always required.

Basic Coverage

Primary Liability

Primary liability insurance, also known as trucking liability, is the cornerstone of all commercial truck insurance. Primary liability covers any accidents or incidents deemed to be the fault of the driver. Within this coverage are provisions for bodily injury and for property damage. 


The bodily injury portion of liability insurance pays for hospital bills of any third parties, such as pedestrians or other drivers, injured in accidents. Property damage covers repairs to other people’s property.

Nearly all companies will be required to purchase primary liability insurance unless they are an owner operator or lease operator working under someone else's authority, in which case the entity with the authority will provide the primary liability.

Physical Damage

Physical damage coverage is required of any driver financing a truck, and is an important aspect of coverage for the owner of the vehicle. There are various types of physical damage coverage. These include collision damage, which covers truck repairs following an accident and comprehensive coverage, which covers truck repairs for damages incurred outside the operation of the vehicle that are not the fault of the driver, such as a tree branch falling on the windshield of a parked truck.

 

Cargo Insurance

Not every truck on the road needs cargo insurance. But shippers and brokers require that all for-hire carriers obtain it.


While drivers operating under the authority of an owner operator or motor carrier will typically have their cargo coverage provided by that entity, all others will need to provide their own cargo insurance where applicable.


Rates for cargo insurance, also known as motor truck cargo insurance, are determined by the type of commodity being transported, the limits of the policy, and the driver’s history. A range of additional coverage options can be added to standard cargo insurance, including:


  • Pollution Liability, which covers cleanup of any spilled cargo
  • Debris Removal, which covers the cost of removing cargo dropped onto roads and waterways
  • Theft and Hijackings, which covers losses from stolen or hijacked goods
  • Sue and Labor Coverage, which extends coverage for damaged goods after an incident or accident
  • Earned Freight Coverage, which covers lost income due to damaged cargo that can’t be delivered
  • Infidelity and Dishonesty Coverage, which covers losses from theft committed by the driver
  • Water Damage, which covers losses from trailer leaks and wetness
  • Loading and Unloading Coverage, which covers losses that occur during the loading and unloading of cargo
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance, which covers losses associated with the malfunction of refrigeration equipment

Other common types of commercial truck insurance include medical insurance, which covers the driver and passengers (excluding those in other vehicles) and uninsured or underinsured driver insurance, which covers the other driver in a collision in case the other driver is at fault and does not have sufficient coverage.

Additional Coverage

In addition to the basics of commercial truck insurance, additional coverage is often required, and varies based on the type of business being insured and the way it operates. For example, an owner operator operating under their own authority will typically need to add motor truck general liability coverage at a minimum. But an owner operator working under someone else’s authority is more likely to explore bobtail and non-trucking liability. These additional coverage options include:


Motor Truck General Liability Coverage

General liability insurance should not be confused with primary liability, which is necessary for obtaining a trucking license. Unlike primary liability, general liability insurance covers a business for incidents and accidents that occur off the road, like a fall that happens in a warehouse while loading cargo.


Non-trucking businesses and private carriers often have general liability insurance packaged together with their other business insurance but a new owner operator or motor carrier can opt for motor truck general liability so they will be covered for injuries or property damage caused by business activities not directly related to operating the truck.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance

Those under permanent lease to a motor carrier need non-trucking liability insurance, which covers a driver when he or she is operating the truck outside of working hours. While the carrier handles most liability insurance, the coverage stops when the vehicle is no longer being driven on its assigned route. An owner operator driving under their own authority, on the other hand, won't need non-trucking liability because they will have primary liability covering all of their time, not just when they are driving loads for the motor carrier.


Bobtail Insurance

Often confused with non-trucking liability coverage, bobtail insurance is liability coverage that applies whenever a semi truck is driven without its trailer, whether in the course of business or not. An example of non-business use is a driver using their bobtail to pick up groceries on their day off. A business use example would be the drive between a city where one load was delivered and a city where a new load is being acquired.


Like non-trucking liability, bobtail insurance is typically only needed for drivers operating under someone else’s authority. An owner operator operating under their own authority with their own primary liability insurance normally won’t need bobtail insurance. Lease agreements specify which drivers and which situations require bobtail insurance.


Deadhead Insurance

Like bobtail insurance, deadhead insurance is liability coverage for owner operators when they are not covered under their motor carrier’s primary liability insurance. But where bobtail insurance covers a semi with no trailer, deadhead insurance covers semis hauling empty trailers. The coverage applies whether the semi is being driven for business or personal reasons.


Typically, only drivers operating under someone else’s authority need to obtain bobtail and deadhead insurance. An owner operator operating under their own authority with their own primary liability normally won’t have a need for it.


Unladen Liability

Both deadhead and bobtail insurance cover the times when a trucker has no cargo. But the two types of insurance cover different scenarios. Unladen liability insurance combines the two, offering liability coverage for deadheading or bobtailing regardless of why the truck is being driven.


Trailer insurance

Primary liability insurance will typically cover any incidents involving the trailer, but physical damage to the trailer is a different story. Many drivers must get separate damage insurance for trailers, which include:

  • Dry freight
  • Flatbed
  • Intermodal
  • Auto hauler
  • Gooseneck
  • Utility
  • Bulk commodity
  • Pole
  • Logging
  • Tank
  • Livestock
  • Lowboy
  • Horse Trailer
  • Dump trailer

Trailer Interchange and Non-Owned Trailer insurance

These are types of physical damage insurance for trailers that are owned by someone other than the tractor owner, and offer protection if the trailer is damaged by collision, fire, theft, explosion or vandalism. When the trailer is owned by a third-party, separate insurance coverage is necessary because standard physical damage insurance does not apply.

  • Trailer Interchange coverage only applies when a written agreement is in place with the trailer’s owner, the trailer is covered while attached to the tractor AND it covers all incidents while the trailer is in the carrier’s possession.
  • Non-owned trailer insurance will cover any non-owned trailer attached to the tractor (without a written contract) but it will not provide coverage while the trailer is not attached to the tractor (but still in their possession).

Rental Reimbursement with Downtime

This form of insurance helps a driver get back on the road in a rental vehicle–as well as make truck payments and cover other bills–if a vehicle is inoperable because of an accident.

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

This coverage helps drivers meet out of pocket expenses for repairs.

Limited Depreciation Coverage

This option offers protection against the depreciation of a truck’s value, which is usually high for new models during the first few years of ownership.

Gap Coverage

If a driver has a loan on a vehicle, gap coverage will cover the “gap” between the amount owed on the truck loan and the value given by the insurance company.


On-Hook Coverage

On-hook coverage is a specialized insurance product for tow trucks, and covers expenses associated with repairing or replacing a vehicle that sustains damages while it is being towed. This insurance can pay for damages related to fire, collision, theft, or vandalism. Tow trucks can be insured in various ways, but on-hook coverage covers only the vehicles being towed.


Personal Injury Protection and Occupational Accident Plans

  • Personal injury protection covers payments for medical treatments, and it also offers more comprehensive coverage for rehabilitation or therapy costs, loss of wages, and death benefits. Whether or not a business needs PIP insurance varies by state. Such coverage is required by law in some "no-fault" states but is unavailable in others.
  • Occupational accident plans are for owner operators who are not required to carry workers’ compensation. The plans offer coverage for disability income, accidental death, and dismemberment, accidental medical and accidental dental. Identity theft resolution and travel assistance services are also available.

What does commercial truck insurance not cover?

Commercial truck insurance covers a wide range of vehicles, drivers and circumstances – but there are also things that insurance does not cover.


For example, intentional damage inflicted by a driver is something insurance will not cover. Personal items or vehicles belonging to other people–at least when not involved in an accident–are other things that will not be covered under a commercial truck insurance policy. If a company regularly transports property or drives automobiles belonging to other people, additional insurance outside of standard truck insurance will be required.


When it comes to personal items being carried by the driver, for example a laptop computer, coverage may require an additional policy.


And every commercial driver needs to keep the following in mind when considering the limits of the various types of insurance coverage: The FMCSA has established limits on how long drivers can stay on the road without taking a break. Going over the limit may mean invalidating insurance coverage.

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(855) 852-8232
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How much does commercial truck insurance cost?

With many competing insurers–and their rates determined by the vehicle, the driver, the cargo, the route, and various other factors–it is impossible to specify one useful cost range for commercial truck insurance. The rates a trucking business will pay depend entirely on the situation.


Some of the larger insurance companies, however, attempt to give estimates.


Progressive’s national average monthly cost for commercial truck insurance ranged from $640 for specialty truckers to $982 for transport truckers. But these numbers are only averages, and can change quickly based on a number of variables, including:


  • Type of business and proposed vehicle use – A landscaping company will pay different rates than a tow truck company or a semi truck owner operator
  • Type, make and model of truck, in addition to the year it was manufactured and its price when new
  • Home state and proposed route – Policies vary in cost state by state, and also based on operating radius. Semi truck drivers who cross state lines will pay more than those who operate locally.
  • How the truck is stored
  • Age, experience level and driving record of the operator – Traffic citations and past accidents mean higher premiums. Age of the driver can also be a factor, as younger drivers have higher accident rates.
  • Coverage limits and deductibles – Higher coverage limits and lower deductibles mean higher premiums
  • Cargo type (where applicable)
  • USDOT Authority / MC Number Status – Insurance may vary based on having a USDOT number as well as whether an MC number is required. Operating under one’s own authority will be more expensive than being leased to another trucking company because drivers operating under someone else’s authority generally don’t need to worry about primary liability coverage, as it will be provided by the entity with the authority.


Finding affordable insurance

Whether a trucking business buys insurance online or goes through a broker or agent, knowledge is power when it comes to finding the best deals.


To get the most valuable information, take the following steps while conducting due diligence:


  • Compare quotes from multiple companies
  • Decide between higher deductibles or lower coverage limits
  • Whenever possible, insure only experienced drivers with clean driving records 
  • Consider whether less coverage might suffice
  • Compare the discounts established providers offer for loyalty against the steep discounts newer companies offer to win business
  • Pay annually instead of monthly, which can save 10-20%
  • Explore telematics and other devices that can make it easier to monitor and insure fleets
Speak to A live Agent
Call
(855) 852-8232
Receive a free custom quote for your business.

Finding the best commercial truck insurance company

Commercial truck insurance policies can be acquired through an agent, a broker, or online. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.


Purchasing a policy through an agent means working with a professional who works directly for an insurance provider, either as an employee or an independent contractor. This means the agent will be well-versed in the various coverage options and is able to sell insurance directly to the buyer. While independent agents work with multiple insurance providers, company and captive agents only sell insurance for a single provider so options will be more limited. Both independent and captive agents are solely paid through commissions while company agents are paid via salary, although they may be further compensated through commissions.


Another option for getting insurance coverage is going through a broker, who works directly for the buyer and has a fiduciary duty to their client, not the insurance provider. Like independent agents, brokers are familiar with multiple insurance companies to help get optimal coverage for the best price. Brokers are known for saving time and money as companies and contractors shop for commercial truck insurance, but they also charge fees for their services that can cut into any savings.


Buying policies online is another popular option. Automated tools return quotes quickly based on a customer’s specific insurance needs. This self-service model is fast, easy and relatively inexpensive, but it only works well for insurance shoppers who already know what their coverage needs are. Those who want to talk through their options with a knowledgeable professional should not opt for self-service.

Category
Independent Agent
Captive Agent
Company Agent
Broker
Online Tool
Insurance Coverage
Multiple insurance companies
Single insurance company
Single insurance company
Multiple insurance companies
Multiple insurance companies
How They’re Paid
Entirely commissions
Entirely commissions
Salary and possibly commissions
Client fees and commissions
Varies

Requirements for Commercial Truck Insurance

Brokers, agents, and online services need information from truckers before they offer an insurance policy.


Owner operators will be asked to provide:


  • An insurance policy declarations page, which includes the driver’s name and address, descriptions of the insured property and the premium. It also outlines your policy's coverages, limits, deductibles, discounts and relevant insurance policy forms and endorsements. A personal auto declarations page will suffice if the applicant does not have a declarations page for commercial truck insurance.
  • Driver’s license numbers and driving history of all drivers.
  • VIN numbers of all vehicles covered.
  • List of safety and security features on each commercial truck.


Motor carriers, freight brokers and freight forwarders need to provide insurance declarations to the FMCSA before they are granted authority to operate.


Comparison Shopping

Shopping around is often the key to getting the best value at the lowest price, and this is also true of commercial truck insurance. When comparing insurance providers, shoppers should start by making sure each insurer offers the right options, and that their policy limits are suitable.


Additionally, it’s worth learning about the reputations of various insurers. Consumer insights firms like JD Power issue statements and rankings related to insurers, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners keeps a complaint database to display how many complaints insurance companies receive relative to their market share. Online review sites can also be helpful, but it’s important to take reviews with a grain of salt. Disgruntled customers are far more likely to post a review than happy customers are.


Looking at the finances of insurance companies is also helpful because commercial truck insurance covers incidents and accidents that can be very costly. The Insurance Information Institute offers tips on how to gauge the financial health of an insurance company, including learning what rating agencies like AM Best, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s have to say.


But comparing costs is arguably the most important aspect of comparison shopping. Getting quotes from different insurers is something that sheds light on what options are the most feasible. For those who don’t have time to perform all of this research, brokers can quickly get quotes from various insurance providers.

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The best commercial truck insurance companies

We took a number of factors into consideration when selecting and recommending the best available options for commercial truck insurance. 


Most of our top choices operate in all 50 states, and all the insurers we selected have policies to cover semi trucks. All offer general liability, property damage and other commercial truck insurance basics, and most also offer additional policies covering other contingencies.


We looked at the financial strength of each insurer, as well as any discounts they offer. Additionally, we factored in ratings compiled by organizations like JD Power and any complaints lodged with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.


Keeping in mind that the coverage needs and policy limits will be different for every trucking business, we recommend:


Best Overall, recommended for private carriers

Progressive

Overview

Progressive is the largest commercial auto insurance company by premiums written. With a long track record of working with the trucking industry, the company has simplified the process of obtaining motor carrier filings–from the SSRS Form E to the MCS-90 filing–to determine a business’ required levels of financial responsibility. Progressive has a great online tool for obtaining quotes and covers towing costs. Additionally, the company works with in-house claims adjusters who specialize in trucking, and offers a single company contact for the claims process. Progressive is a great option for most businesses and truck types.


Reputation

The company won second place in the service department from JD Power Digital Experience and while data compiled by the NAIC shows Progressive does get consumer complaints, it is not an excessive number. Additionally, Progressive consistently ranks well on the Keynova Scorecards that evaluates insurers and financial service providers on their digital experience.


Coverage

Progressive has a wide range of coverage options available for trucks and other commercial vehicles, insuring fleets and single vehicles. The company offers various insurance options, including all of the basics, to motor carriers, owner operators and private carriers in all 50 states. Rental reimbursement with downtime, garagekeepers, on-hook towing, and pilot car insurance for vehicles that serve as escorts for other vehicles and fleets are among Progressive’s many options. Progressive uses a broad definition of commercial vehicle, insuring semi trucks, pickups, box trucks, tow trucks dump trucks, bucket trucks, cement mixers, flatbed trucks, delivery vans, front loaders, garbage trucks, ice cream trucks, pump trucks, refrigerated trucks, step vans, street sweepers, tank trucks, and other vehicles. Short term trucking insurance for non-trucking liability coverage is also available, so that new vehicle owners that have yet to sign a lease agreement with a motor carrier can maintain coverage while driving their new truck home or to another destination after purchase.


Financial Ratings

Progressive is highly rated by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and AM Best. It also receives a positive outlook by Fitch.


Cost

Rates always vary, but Progressive offers an estimated monthly average of $640 for specialty truckers and $982 for transport truckers. The company also offers various discounts for truckers, including:


  • Discount for having a valid CDL for at least two years
  • Business experience discount if in business for at least three years
  • Paid-in-full discount of up to 15% for owner operators (discount can vary by state; not available in every state)
  • Bundling of other business insurance and/or personal vehicle insurance
  • Auto pay via electronic funds transfer
  • Discount for sharing driving data with Progressive using its electronic logging device (ELD). Known as the SmartHaul program, new truck customers using the logging device can save an average of $1,106.

Recommended for owner operators and fleet insurance

Northland Insurance

Overview

Northland, backed by Travelers, has been insuring trucks for decades and works with local drivers and long-haul truckers alike. Northland also provides insurance to livery services such as limousine and shuttle companies. The insurer goes the extra mile to recover lost cargo, with a Special Investigations Group that helps to recover millions of dollars worth of lost goods every year. Truckers insured by Northland also have the assistance of the company’s 90+ in-house lawyers for any litigation that arises in the course of business. Additionally, Northland offers free state and federal highway motor carrier filings with same day service. Reporting claims with the insurer is simple, as the company’s website provides that option and agents are available by phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The insurer works with agents to generate quotes.


Reputation

Northland has a moderate complaint ratio with the NAIC for commercial auto insurance. Its parent company, Travelers, is the country’s second largest commercial auto insurance provider and a Dow 30 company.


Coverage

Northland insures trucks in all 50 states, offering policies for motor carriers, owner operators and public auto passenger carriers. It meets requirements for Intermodal Association of North America, and specializes in the trucking industry and livery services. This means trucking and livery businesses might find it to be the perfect fit, but that other types of businesses that use trucks might find better options elsewhere. Northland’s additional coverage options include:

  • Tool and equipment floater
  • Deductible reimbursement (This coverage may be purchased to pay the owner operator back for certain deductible amounts paid to the fleet for damages from a covered cargo or liability loss as written in the lease agreement)
  • Family Emergency Travel is automatically included on primary liability policies for no additional charge. This allows for family members to travel with the insured in the event the insured is injured and hospitalized as a result of an accident to a covered auto up to $2,500 limit for travel expenses.
  • Custom cargo coverage designed for public auto customers, motor carriers in business for less than two years and for those who haul cars or boats
  • Workers’ compensation via Travelers


Financial Ratings

Northland is rated Stable by Fitch, and receives a grade of A++ from AM Best.


Cost

For single trucks, Northland uses a combined deductible for physical damage claims with or without cargo insurance. The insurer also aggregates deductible coverage, which can be customized for fleets that want to mitigate their exposures on a per-location or per-event basis. Northland also offers free perks with its physical damage coverage, including:


  • Towing expenses: Towing a vehicle as a result of a covered loss are automatically included in Northland’s comprehensive coverage product at no extra charge
  • For public auto companies: Roadside coverage including Windshield Repair and Replacement Endorsement is included in comprehensive coverage for no additional charge to all limousine, airport limousine, limo NOC and luxury sedan policies that have comprehensive coverage. It also includes towing and labor costs as a result of mechanical failure, locksmith services, roadside tire repair, and roadside gasoline delivery. Windshield repair and replacement includes repair of windshield chips without application of the comprehensive coverage deductible and windshield replacement with a $100 deductible.
  • Flexible payment terms that are interest free

Recommended for owner operators

Owner Operator Direct (Lancer Insurance)

Overview

Owner Operator Direct is a commercial truck insurance product specifically designed for owner operators, both operating under their own authority or someone else’s authority. Its business is underwritten by Lancer Insurance Company. Because of the company's exclusive focus on owner operators, other businesses will want to look elsewhere. For those who decide it is a good fit, the insurer makes claims professionals available 24 hours per day 365 days per year and offers free state and federal insurance filing. OOD is willing to insure new businesses but limits coverage to one truck. However, the insurer does not cater to new drivers with less than two years of experience or operators under 25 years of age.


Reputation

OOD has a low consumer complaint ratio, according to NAIC and is a part of the Lancer Insurance Company, which is more than 30 years old.


Coverage

OOD insures trucks in all 50 states. Among other coverage, the insurer offers debris and pollution removal with a separate limit of $25,000, GAP coverage, and combined deductibles for tractor, trailer, and cargo damage. The company also offers coverage for loading and unloading freight, and earned freight charges paid.


Financial Ratings

Owner Operator Direct has a financial strength score of A- from AM Best.


Cost

OOD has flexible payment options, with some down payment amounts and payment schedules being interest free. The company also offers free towing after an accident.

Recommended for large motor carriers and specialty trucking

National Interstate Insurance (Great American Insurance Group)

Overview

Established in 1989, National Interstate is a member of the Great American Insurance Group. Suited to larger carriers, the company offers alternative risk and captive solutions, working with an affiliated company (Safety, Claims & Litigation Services, LLC) in the area of risk management. The affiliated company offers consultation and training, as well as accident event recorder technology. National Interstate completes repairs quickly and easily by working with pre-approved mechanics as a part of its Rig Ready program. The insurer has claims professionals available by phone 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.


Reputation

While the Great American Insurance Group has a high complaint ratio as a whole for commercial auto insurance, National Interstate itself has a low complaint ratio for commercial auto. Additionally, the company has won numerous industry and business awards, and the Great American Insurance Group is a top 20 provider of commercial auto insurance.


Coverage

National Interstate insures trucks in all 50 states, offering policies not just for motor carriers but passenger vehicles like buses and limousines, waste and garbage operations, gas and propane distribution vehicles, ambulances and other medical transportation, cranes and rigging, heavy haul vehicles, tow trucks, and moving and storage trucks. Hazmat insurance is also an option for some trucking companies through National Interstate. Some coverage options are limited to large fleets, however. For example, tow truck coverage requires at least 15 trucks, and waste & recycling coverage requires at least 20 trucks. The company will also cover personal items under some policies.


Financial Ratings

The insurer has had its financial strength rated as an A+ by AM Best. The members of Great American Insurance Group are subsidiaries of American Financial Group, Inc. (AFG), which is listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFG.


Cost

National Interstate offers cost savings for large vehicle fleets through their alternative risk and captive solutions. 


Alternative risk transfer insurance, also known as ART, is a way for trucking companies to become their own insurance companies. Large trucking businesses, for example, use ART to allow truckers to pay into customized programs. If there are no accidents or claims, a portion of the premium becomes investment income, which is returned. ART shares the risks differently, allowing the insured to share the risk between their business and National Interstate Insurance. Trucking companies with solid safety records can benefit from ART.


The insurer also offers the TruXpro program, which features:

  • Diminishing Deductible – For every loss-free year, the original deductible amount will decrease by 25% until it reaches $0.
  • Single Deductible – When a tractor and trailer are insured under the same policy and damages result from the same covered loss, only one deductible will apply.

Recommended for experienced owner operators looking for premium coverage

Great West Casualty Company

Overview

Great West has specialized in trucking insurance for decades, and is a favorite among experienced truckers. Founded in 1965, Great West joined the Old Republic Insurance Group in 1985. The company has a dedicated safety service department that provides seminars, online content, newsletters, and publications to help truckers avoid incidents. When necessary, the insurer even has their own aircraft used to investigate accidents and salvage perishable loads. Great West also offers help with claims 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.


Reputation

Uniquely popular among truckers in online forums, the insurer has a low complaint ratio on NAIC for commercial auto insurance.


Coverage

Great West does not insure trucks in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York or Rhode Island. In other states, the insurer offers all basic coverage plus optional add-ons like covering personal property or lease value and finance value (which pays off a lease or loan in case the actual cash value falls short). The company’s additional options include umbrella insurance, workers’ compensation, and insurance tailored to bulk commodity carriers. The company also offers insurance to freight brokers and freight forwarders.


Great West is particular when it comes to who they insure. The company prefers:

  • Owner operators using their own authority to have at least 2 years of experience
  • Drivers to be over 23 years of age
  • Drivers have no DUIs in the last 6 years and no license suspensions in the last 3 years. Those who have had moving violations within the past four years may have limited coverage options.


Financial Ratings

Analysts have declared Great West is in great financial shape receiving A.M. Best's rating of A+ (superior), an A+ rating with Standard & Poor's, and an A2 rating from Moody's.


Cost

Great West has been known to waive deductibles for longtime customers. While it is not necessarily the cheapest option, according to online forums, the coverage and value are great. The company also offers specialized insurance products, like coverage for personal property.

Recommended for new trucking companies and new drivers

OOIDA Insurance (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association)

Overview

Founded in 1973, OOIDA is run by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, ​​an international trade association for professional truckers. The insurer exclusively focuses on owner operators in the trucking industry, both independent and those who work under someone else’s authority.


Liability coverage through OOIDA is provided by OOIDA Risk Retention Group (RRG). A risk retention group has distinct advantages and disadvantages for the insured, and should be approached with a “buyer beware” attitude. Popular in industries known for high risk, RRGs are created and owned by the businesses being insured. The businesses, in a sense, share all risk-management. While this can mean lower premiums, fewer rate increases, simpler licensure for multi-state operators and other perks, it also means less regulatory oversight and the potential for one costly claim to affect the entire group.


Reputation

OOIDA has a moderately high complaint ratio with NAIC for commercial auto insurance. However, the insurer is willing to work with newer trucking companies, offering a much-needed option for owner operators without years of experience.


Coverage

OOIDA offers all the basic coverage options needed to run a trucking business, whether as an owner operator leased under another motor carrier or as an independent owner operator using their own authority. Additional coverage choices include gap coverage, downtime coverage, supplemental towing and clean-up, and rental reimbursement. The insurer also offers occupational accident plans for owner operators who are not required to carry workers’ compensation.


Financial Ratings

Because OOIDA has not been rated by AM Best, some freight brokers, shippers, and 3PLs won’t work with companies that have their insurance through OOIDA. This is not an issue for many companies but potential buyers should request a list of restricted brokers from OOIDA to make sure their business won’t be affected.


Cost

Because liability insurance is offered through a Risk Retention Group, OOIDA is exempt from many state insurance requirements and can sometimes offer lower premiums and fewer unexpected premium increases or decreases. However, if a business in the RRG suffers a large loss, this can raise premiums across the group. If a risk retention group fails, businesses may lose their funds regardless of whether they are involved in a given claim.

Runner-up for overall

Sentry

Overview

Sentry insures more than 37,000 truck drivers, and is a member of the American Trucking Association. Insurance through Sentry is only available via insurance agencies that specialize in trucking. Since Sentry specializes in business insurance, and does not focus solely on the trucking industry, it can cover a range of businesses that require commercial truck insurance. The company employs certified directors of safety with more than 20 years of industry experience.


Reputation

Sentry has a low complaint index with NAIC for commercial auto insurance.


Coverage

Sentry insures trucks in all 50 states, offering policies for businesses of all sizes, from small businesses in a range of industries to independent truckers and operators of large fleets. The insurer has a number of industry-specific products in healthcare, construction, dealerships, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and others. In addition to necessary basic coverage, Sentry also offers cyber liability and data breach liability insurance, umbrella insurance, and other specialized business policies.


Financial Ratings

Sentry has been rated A+ by AM Best for the past 30 years, and has also been named a top 20 commercial auto insurance provider.


Cost

Sentry offers limited information online, but their 65 agencies throughout the country can provide quotes.